TV

Russell T Davies Leaning Into the Fantasy Genre Is Just What Doctor Who Needs 


Finally, the Doctor can be out of his depth again!

Ncuti Gatwa in Doctor Who Christmas Special poster 2023
Photo: BBC/Bad Wolf/Nwaka Okparaeke

To any fans who’d wished for Russell T Davies to return as Doctor Who showrunner and correct where they thought the show had drifted off course since his absence, it might be a case of ‘careful what you wish for’. Oh? You wanted Doctor Who to be like it was in the olden days before it got ‘woke’? Let’s resolve Davies’s first episode with a trans woman of colour chanting “Non-binary”. You wanted Doctor Who to retcon all of Chris Chibnall’s changes to the canon? Well, we’re going to make his plot points key emotional touchstones for the new specials and series – and then invent bigeneration.

And now the next step in Davies’ campaign against those who want Doctor Who to be like it was in the old days (whenever they were), is to make pronouncements about the show’s genre.

“The show is taking a sly step towards fantasy, which will annoy people to whom it’s a hard science-fiction show,” Davies told the Radio Times. “Episode two next year is wildly fantasy. Completely making up scenarios on-screen that we’ve never been able to show before.” Although Davies qualifies that with, “But the following episode is proper hard science-fiction.”

Now, to a certain extent, this is no big deal. Doctor Who hasn’t really been hard science fiction since the Daleks went and busted Sydney Newman’s “No bug-eyed monsters” rule in 1963. Steven Moffat’s entire era might as well have been Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi taking it in turns to bellow the word “Fairy tale!” into the audience’s faces. The Doctor has literally met Santa Claus.

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